- Do you remember how many U.S. soldiers died in the first
Gulf War? On television at the time, they told you it was around 64. Later,
as news agencies recalculated the total from a variety of sources, it became
146. But now, some 13 years later, according to the Veterans Administration
itself, the first Gulf War death toll among U.S. troops who served there
stands at 8,013! And this a figure from a 2002 report.
- I was reminded of this hideous numerical progression
recently when I read the Pentagon's report listing 534 American military
fatalities as of Feb. 1, 2004. Almost immediately after seeing that, I
read the story by Australian investigator Joe Vialls saying the American
combat death toll from Iraq was actually 1,188.
- So what is going on? As if we didn't know.
- Today's Army recruitment jingle is "Be all that
you can be." But given the news these days, and the ominous spectrum
of options and consequences that confront today's enlistees, it seems like
all you can be is dead, or at best, severely messed up for the rest of
- It seems like the real choices when you join the U.S.
military are somewhere between missing limbs, lifelong cancer from toxic
substances, and learning how to murder innocent women and children on the
diabolical say-so of those who avoided military service themselves.
- If dubious combat in some out of the way place doesn't
get you with a roadside bomb planted by courageous souls who resent your
invading their country, then the aftereffects of radioactive ammunition
vapor, poisonous vaccines, bad equipment, substandard medical care, inadequate
training, and, if you're a woman, being raped by your own American comrades,
is likely your foreseeable future. (See http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,0,36%257E30137%257E,00.html
for that last topic.) Soberly considered, these realizations might possibly
dissuade you from signing up.
- Private e-mail communications I have had with some enlisted
men in the military have painted a really grim picture. Americans are now
in a minority in the U.S. Army, according to these messages. A majority
of our troops are now green card soldiers, foreign nationals who have immigrated
to the states and joined the military in order to get their citizenship,
if they can live through the experience. And they are not especially eager
to uphold esprit de corps, or fulfill any mission they might be given,
only to get that piece of paper.
- But even worse that that - and what ordinary soldiers
and sailors would consider the worst possible fate to befall them - is
that many career military personnel who have served their 20 years in order
to get their pensions with which to live out their days with a comfortable
financial anchor are now prevented from going home because top military
officials insist they can't afford to lose them.
- Just imagine - joining the military and never being able
to get out! It's a tale out of ancient Rome.
- And all this isn't even to mention - so far - the phony
rationalizations used by the fake human beings in Washington to throw away
the lives of America's finest young people.
- Those contemplating joining the military - and parents
who are trying to counsel their children with this decision - should contemplate
the following choices.
- First of all you have wars popping up everywhere, with
the Pentagon petrogurus and pharmapsychotics intent on creating new conflicts
as fast as they can. But the bottom line is this. Based on what the leaders
of our country and the people in charge of our military are saying, they
are not telling the truth.
- The leaders of our military are not only not telling
the truth about why they are going to war, as clearly demonstrated by this
ongoing caper in Iraq, where the stated reasons for initially starting
this "preemptive" war have been demolished six ways from Sunday.
- But they are lying about everything else, as well. They
are lying about the number of people killed (they don't even bother to
count the Iraqis or Afghanis or Colombians or Filipinos they kill), they
are lying about how Americans are dying, or getting their limbs shot off,
or dropping dead on the spot from some kind of mysterious pneumonia.
- Soldiers going to Iraq were ordered to take an antidote
to biological weapons called pyrisdostigmine bromide (PB). They also received
a vaccine against botulinum and a drug to protect against anthrax.
Some 250 thousand troops took PB, 8,000 received botulinum vaccinations,
and 150 thousand took the anthrax medicine.
- An investigation in response to the deaths of two soldiers
and the hospitalization of approximately 100 with what was diagnosed as
pneumonia has revealed that 10 of the 19 most severe cases, including the
two fatalities, had the condition eosinophilia-a higher than normal level
of the white blood cell eosinophil. Eosinophilia is commonly associated
with an allergic reaction to either toxins or parasitic infection. In these
cases, the military claims there is no evidence of toxins or an infectious
variant of pneumonia. An Army spokesman blamed the problem on excessive
- The World Health Organisation has specifically warned
that "brief accidental exposure to high concentrations of uranium
hexafluoride has caused acute respiratory illness, which may be fatal".
The WHO report notes that "pulmonary edema [fluid in the lungs], hemorrhages,
inflammation and emphysema" were observed in rats, mice and guinea
pigs after 30 days of inhaling DU. Fatal kidney damage has also been induced
in animals by several days of high exposure. DU, or depleted uranium, in
case you don't know this (where have you been?!) is what America's bullets
and bombs are made of. And likely what is to account for the continued
increase in the Gulf War I death toll over the past decade.
- And when the troops come home in a box, they're preventing
the news media from even seeing them. And when they're not in a box but
all shot up, they're putting them into warehouses because they don't have
the medical personnel (or the commitment to treat with decency those defending
America) to deal with the injured.
- But it's not only that. The current push to refresh overstressed
troops now involves thrusting poorly trained reservists and National Guard
personnel into situations that are almost too much to bear for the military's
most hardened units. Just imagine what these weekend warriors - pharmacists
and factory workers from small town middle America - are up against being
tossed into the middle of a guerrilla war where the whole country of Iraq
is boobytrapped and the whole population hates your guts and is out to
kill you. Care to sign up for that?
- Still, when you join the military you must accept the
possibility you might get killed. That's why the military exists, so you
can't complain too much about that. You can complain about the choices
of the leaders that put your dumb butt in that position, but when you join
the military, you pretty much give up that right, too. But many troops
are complaining that their equipment often doesn't work, the food is barely
edible, the medical care (at least in the field) is pretty substandard,
and when these injured troops get home, well, that's when it gets dicey
.... and shameful.
- You've no doubt heard of the debacle of injured troops
brought back and left to molder in un-air-conditioned barracks at Fort
Stewart, Georgia for up to six weeks without any medical care at all. Or
the shot-up zombies wandering around the corridors of Walter Reed Army
Hospital in Washington unable to get adequate treatment because there just
aren't enough medical personnel to care for them.
- Soldiers at Fort Stewart described clusters of strange
ailments, like heart and lung problems, among previously healthy troops.
They said the Army has tried to refuse them benefits, claiming the injuries
and illnesses were due to a "pre-existing condition," prior to
military service, even though their pre-combat physicals turned up nothing
of the sort.
- Most soldiers in medical hold at Fort Stewart stay in
rows of rectangular, gray, single-story cinder block barracks without bathrooms
or air conditioning. The latrine smells of urine and is full of bugs, because
many windows have no screens. Soldiers say they have to buy their own toilet
- Having to take a pay cut in the middle of combat in Iraq,
and then having to pay for their own meals, was a real slap in the face
- But the topper - and the one that chilled me to the bones
recently - was the recent Pentagon decision to not let people go home when
they'd served their 20 years and were due to retire. The Army said they
were short of qualified personnel, and those folks scheduled to retire
would just have to wait a little longer. Well, that's involuntary servitude,
friends. That admits the U.S. government is imprisoning these people who
have served our country the best and the longest, and it's absolutely unforgiveable,
a betrayal of these people's loyalty and devotion to their country.
- But it's nothing new. America has always treated its
veterans like crap. Oh, the public relations folks in Washington are always
full of glowing terms to lure youngsters into serving their country, throwing
around words like "honor" and "duty" like they are
promising immortality in some patriotic hall of fame. But ask the veterans
who come home and have their benefits cut what those words eventually mean.
They'll sing a very different tune. And this is nothing new. It has always
been this way.
- Not many people today remember the Hoovervilles.
- At the end of World War One, as the American Expeditionary
Force was being demobilized, a grateful U.S. government passed legislation
that authorized the payment of cash bonuses to war veterans, adjusted for
length of service; a bond that matured 20 years later, in 1945.
- However, the Crash of 1929 wiped out many veterans' savings
and jobs, forcing them out into the streets. Groups of veterans began to
organize and petition the government to pay them their cash bonus immediately.
- In the spring of 1932, more than 3,000 veterans and their
families converged on Washington. Most of them lived in a collection of
makeshift huts and tents outside the city limits. Similar encampments could
be found sheltering the migrant unemployed and poor outside any large city
in the United States and were called 'Hoovervilles'. By July, 25,000 people
had gathered on the outskirts of our nation's capital.
- Congress debated but eventually rejected paying the bonuses
and the Army, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, evicted the protesters and
burned their encampment. More than four years later, some veterans got
small stipends, but President Hoover was not reelected.
- "We were heroes in 1917," said one veteran
bitterly at the time, "but we're bums now." This is exactly what
today's U.S. military have to look forward to, and many have already experienced
- Notwithstanding the immense bureaucracy that the Veterans
Administration has become today (and I have no complaints about the VA,
seeing as how they saved my life on one occasion), it is ill-equipped and
too underfunded to deal with the walking wounded that their nonmilitary
bosses with delusions of petrochemical grandeur are producing today.
- And this is no bad rant against the people who serve
in the military. The vast majority of them, in my experience, are dedicated
inviduals who believe in serving their country, even if they don't ask
the higher philosophical questions of what the military was created for.
Because in fact, it was created to kill people. But you can't ask 18-year-olds
to be philosophically sound when they're only trying to find a way to pay
for college, or, these days, to get a paycheck.
- People in the military are just like anybody else. Only
these days the frightening trend is they're being taught how to kill, and
allowed to murder innocent foreigners in their beds without fear of censure.
It's frightening to think how many of these folks will come home and eventually
join our local police forces still possessed of that same attitude that
it's OK to gun down innocent people without fear of consequences.
- All of this might be easy to dismiss were it not for
talk of the military draft being reinstituted later this year. Because
of that, America's parents need to take a much harder look at all these
wars that are being created for dubious reasons, and also at the way the
military will actually treat their children.
- And all this is not just to focus on what America's misguided
leaders are doing to their own troops. What are we teaching our children
to become, and our citizens to accept?
- Did you know more than 5 million children have died in
Iraq in the last 12 years? This is what Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, director of an
oncology center in Basra, Iraq, said at a peace conference last month in
- Have you heard all the stories of innocent Iraqi civilians
being summarily gunned down at checkpoints merely because American military
personnel are so terrified for their own safety? So terrified that a significant
number of them commit suicide rather than continuing to serve.
- Have you noticed that Americans who are dying in Iraq
are not the children of affluent families? The class composition of those
being killed was pointed out in a comment by Cynthia Tucker in the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution: "The all-volunteer military is disproportionately
drawn from blue-collar homes." The family median income of recruits
into the US military is between $32,000 and $34,000. Military sociologist
Charles Moskos told Tucker: "People are forgetting, we're not losing
the sons and daughters of America's leaders, but basically minorities and
working class whites."
- It almost seems like Uncle Sam is trying to kill his
own soldiers. But there is even a more sinister and dangerous tangent that
follows from that thought.
- With all the troops posted outside the borders of the
U.S.A., one has to wonder just who is defending us from a possible invasion?
Invasion by whom is not the question. Preventing invasion by anyone has
always been the top priority of the U.S. military. If not, what is it for?
To steal other people's countries so our billionaire oil executives can
claim more territory for themselves? That's the way it seems, doesn't it?
- If so, what honor does one accrue when joining the U.S.
military when it's not for the purpose of defending one's homeland? And
why undertake such a risk when the reward is certain disease or dismemberment,
and then to be treated with incompetence and indifference upon your return,
if you return?
- And more than that, how will we defend ourselves with
a majority of our troops stationed overseas in search of commodity control,
and half of them returning to the states with serious illnesses and injuries,
only to be treated badly?
- It simply kills me when I see film of the funerals of
those young Americans whose lives were thrown away. The patriotic zombies
wave their flags, and the parents of the dead choke down the knowledge
that their child died for nothing except the false-hearted bravado of the
chickenhawks in Washington, who will not know the taste of blood mixed
with tears until, one day in the not too distant future if the American
people so decide, it is their own that they taste.
- John Kaminski (an honorably discharged Navy veteran whose
record of service can actually be produced, although he was busted for
putting up peace signs on his ship during Vietnam) is the author of "America's
Autopsy Report," a collection of his Internet essays published by
Dandelion Books and featured on hundreds of websites around the world.
For more information on how to get this book or to financially support
his work, go to http://www.johnkaminski.com/